I read an article once about how important and insightful dreams can be, and it recommended writing them down as soon as you wake up. I thought I’d try it. But before I even had a chance to pick up a pen, I would wake up from such crazy dreams, it scared me to think of putting them on paper. For example, last night I dreamed a former colleague of mine and I were working at stores side-by-side in a strip mall. We were outside for some reason, and a huge flock of snow geese came overhead.

Now, I love geese, which is part of why I love Wisconsin. I love hearing their call, and watching their formations as they fly overhead. But the geese in the dream decided to “dump,” literally, while they were overhead, covering my friend in geese poop. While she went home to change, I had to oversee her store. Why in the world would a dream like this appear? Sometimes my subconscious scares me…thus, I don’t write down my dreams.

But here we’re talking about the other kind of dream, the what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up kind of dream. I often get emails from young people who are looking at entering the veterinary profession, or students in veterinary technology programs. They are still innocent to the realities of the profession, and their dreams and hopes are so high! Sometimes it’s actually scary, because I fear that when they get their reality check in their first job, they may crater.

In fact, I was talking with my good friend Val about how students fresh out of school, or those entering the profession for the first time, should not be hired into an emergency service or practice. They literally go straight into the fire, and few can handle the heat. So they leave the profession prematurely, never having known how gratifying it can be to just keep pets healthy and happy in a general practice. Sure, emergencies and sick animals come into general practice, but the ratio is smaller than in an emergency practice, or even a specialty practice, depending of course on the specialty.

I recall my first job in the veterinary profession was an emergency practice, working overnights nonetheless. The first time I saw a Pekingese with a popped eyeball, I nearly freaked! How can that be possible? And how in the world can they be OK after that? Well, of course, some aren’t, but just the thought of eyelids sewn shut today makes me cringe. The first surgery I watched was one of my own cats getting spayed and I nearly fainted. So after a few months I must have realized this was not the way I wanted to start out, and I moved to the much more relaxed atmosphere of a general practice.

While managing a multi-specialty practice with 24/7 emergency service, I often got calls from young people wanting to come “observe.” Funny enough, it was more often their mothers who called, and I would politely tell them I would be happy to discuss it with their son or daughter! Even when I got them on the phone, however, I encouraged them to go seek the atmosphere of the general practice. I feared that if they spent one afternoon in our hospital, they would run screaming from the thought of veterinary medicine, and we wouldn’t have a chance of seeing them again.

Dreams are fantastic (well, except for pooping geese), but be careful how you start moving towards them…slow and steady, and in a triangle formation, usually works best!


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